If your home’s water pipes aren’t insulated, it’s time you tackled this relatively simple and straightforward home maintenance job. You don’t need to insulate the pipes inside the walls, but you should insulate any pipes that are exposed, especially those that are exposed in areas that aren’t heated.
Insulating your pipes can keep them from freezing and bursting, and save you from expensive plumbing repairs. They can also minimize heat gain and loss in your pipes, so your hot water stays hot and your cold water stays cold as it travels through the pipes. Pipe insulation can also keep condensation from forming on your pipes, which can help them last longer by preventing corrosion.
How do you insulate your pipes? It’s pretty easy. You can either use insulating tape or you can use foam pipe covers – or you can use a combination of both to make sure your pipes are well insulated all along their length. Simply wrap the insulating material around your pipes, and secure it in place. Here’s how.
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Choose Your Pipe Insulation
There are several types of insulation for pipes, and some types, like spray foam, need to be installed by a professional. Other types, like fiberglass insulation, may not be suitable for insulating pipes in the home – fiberglass, for example, is typically used to insulate pipes that get very hot, because it can withstand high temperatures.
The two main types of pipe insulation that you can install yourself are pipe wrap and foam pipe sleeves. You can probably insulate your pipes with one of these two options in less than an hour. Use pipe wrap to insulate small sections of pipes or to cover bends. Use foam sleeves to cover long sections of pipe.
Wrap Insulating Tape Around Your Pipes
You can install pipe wrap by, well, wrapping it around your pipes. Some types of pipe wrap insulation have adhesive strips so you can stick the end of the wrap to your pipe. Otherwise, you’re going to need to grab your trusty roll of duct tape and tape the end of the pipe wrap to the pipe.
Then wrap the tape around the pipe in a spiral motion, making sure you’re not leaving any gaps. When you reach the end of the length of tape, tape it down to the pipe and begin again with a new piece of pipe wrap. Make sure to wrap duct tape around the point where the two pieces meet so that there aren’t any leaks in your insulation.
Cut Foam Pipe Covers to Fit
Styrofoam pipe covers are available in six-foot lengths, and they’re great for insulating long sections of pipe. You can combine Styrofoam pipe covers with pipe wrap – you can use the pipe wrap to cover the bends in your pipes, and the foam pipe covers to cover the longer sections. However, some people like to miter-cut their foam pipe covers so they can fit the foam cover around the bend in the pipe.
To install foam pipe sleeves, measure the length of your pipe and then use a utility knife to cut a piece of foam sleeve to size. If your foam sleeve isn’t long enough to cover the whole pipe, cut another piece of sleeve to fit around the rest of the pipe. Foam pipe sleeves have a slit down the length of the sleeve.
You’ll need to open this slit with your fingers and wrap the foam sleeve around your pipe. The slit should close up around the pipe, and then you’ll need to seal the seam.
Some varieties of foam pipe sleeves have self-sealing slits. You’ll see self-adhesive strips integrated into the seam, and you’ll just have to pull off the paper covering the adhesive after you’ve wrapped the sleeve around the pipe. A self-adhesive slit should seal itself, but you might have to press the sides together until they stick and stay shut.
If your foam pipe sleeves don’t have self-adhesive seals, you’ll have to seal the slit with duct tape. Just put a piece of duct tape down the length of the pipe covering the seam. Make sure you also seal the seams where pieces of the foam sleeve come together at the ends.
Insulating your pipes can have a lot of benefits – it protects your pipes from freezing and can save you money on energy costs. Plus, it’s easy to do it yourself. Don’t go through another winter with unprotected pipes. Insulate your pipes today.